When you turn on your tap, you don’t expect to see pink water — or water of any colour, for that matter.
But residents of the small Alberta town of Onoway were left puzzled and not a little bit alarmed to discover bright pink water running from their taps Monday night.
“My water is broken. Thanks Town of Onoway,” Trevor Winfield wrote on Facebook when posting a video of the fuchsia-coloured H2O.
On Tuesday, the town said the strange colour was due to a chemical used during a routine line flushing and filter back washing.
Onoway Mayor Dale Krasnow said a valve didn’t close properly, allowing potassium permanganate to get into the water supply.
Potassium permanganate is a salt-based chemical that has a wide range of uses, including water treatment. It is used to remove iron, manganese and hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg smell) from well water. When dissolved in water, it produces an intensely pink or purple colour.
The mayor said office staff were not aware of the issue until 9 p.m. Monday, at which time public works staff were already flushing the lines and trying to stem the flow of the potassium permanganate.
Nothing was posted on the town’s website or Facebook page until 10 a.m. Tuesday, when the town said it hoped to have the lines completely flushed by the end of the day.
“The Town of Onoway sincerely apologizes for any alarm this may have caused. We assure you our water is safe and Public Works is doing everything they can to abate the situation as quickly as possible,” the town statement said.
The town said it is working on getting more residents signed up for its new telematic notification system.
The town said Alberta Environment has been made aware of the situation.
Onoway is about 50 kilometres northwest of Edmonton in Lac Ste. Anne County. The town is home to just over 1,000 people, according to the 2016 Statistics Canada census data.